Damon Shaw Reflects on his Time with Kurukuru: A Journey of Triumphs, Challenges, and Hope for the Future

[Valid RSS]

Estimated reading time:9 minutes, 6 seconds

Damon Shaw’s Farewell: A Fusion of Past Reflections and Future Aspirations


As the sun sets on Damon Shaw’s tenure as the head coach of the Solomon Islands national futsal team, he takes a moment to reflect on the highs and lows of this significant chapter in his career.

In an exclusive interview, Shaw shares his thoughts on the team’s journey, the challenges they faced, and his optimism for the future of Solomon Islands futsal. 

Damon Shaw Reflects on his Time with Kurukuru: A Journey of Triumphs, Challenges, and Hope for the Future

Former Solomon Islands Head Coach Damon Shaw – Source of the picture: Damon Shaw Futsal – Facebook page

FF: Damon, your recent post on social media confirmed the end of your time with the Solomon Islands national futsal team. Can you share your overall sentiments about this chapter coming to a close? 

Damon Shaw: Absolutely, it was always likely to end when it did, unless we qualified for the World Cup, when I would have automatically had a renewal. It’s sad to leave the Solomon Islands, especially when I feel like the team is in a really good position for the next few years but I understand how elite-level sport works and they are well within their rights to make changes.

Solomon Islands is a unique place and culture and I felt so welcomed there from the start and everyone bought into what we were trying to achieve. It got more difficult towards the end when the pressure ramped up and you get to know more about the people around you and perhaps people were trying to be on the right side of history rather than pull together when it was needed most. But overall it’s been a great year in my life and another huge learning experience. 

FF: The goal was to qualify for the FIFA Futsal World Cup. Can you walk us through the emotions of the journey, from the highs to the disappointment of missing out? 

Damon Shaw: The objective was clear – to qualify, and I think we all felt that it was within our reach, and we certainly believed. We prepared very well and, on another day, I think we could have qualified but that’s the nature of the sport. To go to New Zealand and be the only team to give them a game showed that we gave everything, but this time it was New Zealand who deservedly took a place in Uzbekistan. It had been coming for them and they’ve been working extremely well in the “off years”. They came close in 2019, missing out on penalties, and then beat Solomon Islands in 2022, 6-2, so they were the favourites.  

It was an emotional year as we knew what was riding on it: The continuation of the programme for another year, which for some is the only source of income, another World Cup for a tiny nation, and a chance to spread the story of the Kurukuru even further. The low point, even though it should have been a high was after the 5-5 draw with Tahiti in the group. We’d rescued a draw in the last minute, which kept us in the tournament, despite being 2-0 up and 4-2 up, twice allowing them back into the game.

The match should have been within our control, but a series of errors provided Tahiti with an opportunity to regain confidence and reenter the game. The tension escalated as we came dangerously close to the prospect of heading home. However, employing the fly goalkeeper strategy secured a draw, leaving us with a bittersweet mix of relief and disappointment. Qualification was in our grasp, yet we found ourselves constrained by two drawn matches in the group, despite entering the tournament as one of the favorites.

FF: Taking over a transitioning team with high expectations, you mentioned that history doesn’t win games. Can you elaborate on the challenges faced and the progress made during your tenure? 

Damon Shaw: Navigating this challenge was complex; we were essentially working with a new team burdened with the weighty expectations of the Golden Generation, a squad that had successfully qualified for four World Cups. Despite being seeded first in the group, the advantage was minimal, as those earlier achievements made maintaining our standing increasingly challenging. The seasoned players from past campaigns were aging, and the rest lacked experience. Throughout the year, my focus was on providing extensive exposure to the younger talents through tournaments and matches—a strategy I consider successful. This ensures that the players set to guide the team into the future won’t be starting from scratch.

Damon Shaw Reflects on his Time with Kurukuru: A Journey of Triumphs, Challenges, and Hope for the Future

Solomon Islands Futsal National team – Source of the picture: Damon Shaw Futsal Facebook page

FF: Looking back, do you think the trips to Vietnam, Australia, and Thailand were good for a developing new team in transition? Did these experiences affect their confidence going into the OFC Nations Futsal Cup? 

Damon Shaw: Apart from Thailand, I’d say all the preparation tournaments were a success. Thailand taught us a lot about the character of the team and helped me massively when it came to decisions for the final squad. We aimed to play high-level opposition as much as possible and we had further games in September planned against closer opponents in Honiara, which I feel would have been a perfect send-off – first-ever games in front of a home crowd would have given us confidence that we perhaps were missing after Thailand. 

In Australia, we earned a historic draw, against a top Asian team and we competed across all three games, giving lots of young players minutes and facing a team we felt would offer similar challenges to New Zealand and Vietnam was an eye-opener in terms of fitness levels. Before that tour, we were training as a team twice a week and relying on clubs to be training the rest of the time but it showed us that we had to bring all national players full-time into the programme for the next months if we wanted to have the fitness levels we needed. That said we held our own for the majority of the games and probably deserved to be a little closer in the scoreline, but once again it was a good opportunity to assess the squad. 

FF: Despite not qualifying, you speak highly of the team’s potential. How do you see the future of Solomon Islands futsal, and what role does development play? 

Damon Shaw: Solomon Islands will undoubtedly be back on the international stage. With proper development, the young talents in the country have a high ceiling. The focus should be on nurturing this talent, and I’m confident they can reclaim the crown of Oceania and return to the FIFA World Cup. I’d encourage the players to try and get abroad and I’ll always be on the lookout for clubs for them. SIFF now has one of the top facilities in the region at their disposal so have a great opportunity to develop futsal players for the future. As part of my role there, I wrote a strategy to take them up to the 2032 World Cup year and I am sure with the new facility and a good plan in place, the future is bright. 

FF: Any message for the fans and stakeholders who supported the team during your tenure? 

Damon Shaw: The support was unreal. From times in the supermarket or on an evening out, people came to me to say thank you and I felt the passion for the team. I’m sorry it fell on my tenure that we didn’t go to a World Cup, but I am proud of the work we did, and even so, I feel a lot of love from the Solomon Islanders in wishing me well for the future.

Futsal and football are huge parts of peoples’ lives there and I hope the support never dies, but it needs to be supported. We came across a lot of negativity and in a larger country you may be able to tune it out, but in the Solomon Islands, where everybody knows everybody, the negative stuff affects the morale. So the message is, to stick together and support the team through everything because now other Pacific countries are closing the gap and Oceania is going to be competitive in the coming years. 

FF: What’s next for Damon Shaw, and do you see yourself returning to the Solomon Islands in the future? 

Damon Shaw: Right now I’m open to see what interesting projects come up. There are always conversations ongoing and I’m not rushing into anything right now. I feel at 40 I have a lot to come and at the same time, I have 19 years of experience behind me. I’ve always dreamed of working in Asia and unfortunately, due to covid, my time in Malaysia was cut short. Indonesia, Thailand, or Malaysia would be amazing, but I am open to most things.

Damon Shaw Reflects on his Time with Kurukuru: A Journey of Triumphs, Challenges, and Hope for the Future

Solomon Islands Futsal National Team in Thailand at the Continental Futsal Cup 2023

I have a strong desire to serve as an assistant coach alongside one of the top coaches globally—a longstanding aspiration that feels opportune at this juncture. Regarding the Solomon Islands, there’s a genuine wish to revisit someday and see the plan to fruition. The connections forged there are meaningful, and the country’s beauty resonates deeply with me. Whether for professional endeavors or leisure, I am confident that I’ll return to this remarkable place.

As Damon Shaw bids farewell to Solomon Islands futsal, the echoes of his journey resonate with triumphs, challenges, and hope for the future. The team is in transition, but the potential is vast. 

Author of the Interview

Stephen McGettigan was born in the Republic of Ireland but grew up in Belfast. He is the founder of Futsal Focus, a Football Industries MBA graduate from the University of Liverpool Management School, and he has worked in the Football and Futsal industries for 15 years.

Organ Donation

Futsal Focus is a supporter of Dáithí Mac Gabhann and his family’s campaign to raise awareness of Organ Donation. We encourage our readers to learn more about Organ Donation: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/

Futsal Focus

You can read more articles about domestic futsal by going to the top navigation bar or by clicking here

If you like this article and would like to keep updated on Futsal news, developments, etc then you can now follow Futsal Focus via Google News by following our page which will send you an alert as soon as we publish an article so please click here and follow us on Google.

You can also keep updated on Futsal news, developments, etc then please submit your email below in the Subscribe to Futsal Focus option.

Follow Futsal Focus by clicking on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram or on the social media buttons on the website.